CHIEF RABBI, HACHAM SHAUL KASSIN 5681 – 5779 / 1921-2018

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MA’OR YESHIVA HIGH SCHOOL IGNITES THE SPARK OF HESED IN THEIR STUDENTS

By: Frieda Schweky



Ma’or Yeshiva is a high school for boys located in Long Branch, NJ. For about twelve years this community institution has been educating and nurturing young men to equip them with the tools they need to go out in the world and be successful in whichever path they may choose. Torah and Gemara studies take up a large amount of the students’ time and effort, and a good amount of time and energy is also spent on core secular studies. The results speak for themselves. The young men graduate
well-rounded and ready to take on the world. Almost all ofMa’or graduates head to Israel to study for a year. Many of them return and continue their learning, while others choose the path of a college career.

“What makes Ma’or so special is the relationships between the rabbis and teachers to the students,” saidprincipal of Ma’or Yeshiva, Rabbi David Beyda. “Since we have the benefit of small classes, a ratio of about eight students to one teacher, the bonds that they make are real and long-lasting, and the students benefit from it immensely.”

The most recent initiative Ma’or has launched to benefit their students and the broader Jewish community was their “Hanukah Week.” The week was organized and planned to include a good mix of Hanukah fun, as well as hesedinitiatives throughout.

“Led by our principal Rabbi David Beyda, our goal is to instill pride and unity as well as the value of acts of hesed, into our Ma’or Yeshiva students,” said Educational Consultant, Dr. Ruth Katz. “We feel that our successful launch of ‘Hanukah Week’ was another large step we took towards reaching those goals.”

Some of the lighter and fun activities the students enjoyed throughout the “Hanukah Week” were a school Hanukah party and an ice-skating trip. Bonding with peers and rabbis, and enjoying all the holiday had to offer was really appreciated by the students. However, there was one activity which seemed to have a significant impact on the young men. After days of collecting gifts for the Chai Life Line Toy Drive, Ma’or Yeshiva planned as part of the Hanukah Week initiative to take their students on a very special field trip.
The group headed out after school hours on a hesedmission. They were to take some toys collected from the drive and distribute them in a local hospital to sick and injured children.

When the students arrived at Jersey Shore Medical Center the group was a little apprehensive about the task at hand.

"When I we first got to the hospital on our hesedmission I was nervous, but that soon changed significantly,” said Eli Massry, a ninth-grade student. “As I started distributing the gifts to the children, I began to feel confident and proud of what we were doing.”

The students really rose to the occasion and took their mission seriously. They spoke to the young patients, asked them how they were feeling, and gave them hizuk.

“After a long day in school, Dr. Ruth Katz invited us to help patients in the hospital and give them gifts for the holiday. A few of my friends and I decided to go as an after-school activity,” said Yehudah Sultan, a tenth-grade student, as he reflected on his experience. “When we walked into the hospital, I was hesitant to see how our visit would pan out, as I had never experienced such a visit. As we were walking in the hall, I saw people sitting in their rooms feeling down, and just then I felt that what I am doing, giving out gifts, would for sure make their day. We walked into the first boy's room and I saw his face glow with happiness as we gave him a holiday gift. We were all feeling very good to see him so happy. We went from room to room untilwe finished giving all our gifts. When the day was done, we all walked out of the hospital saying to ourselves, “There is nothing more beautiful than someone who goes out of their way to make life beautiful for others.”

Ma’or Yeshiva plans to have more social initiatives in the future. In fact, while visiting the hospital, Bikur Holim invited the school back to help pack kosher food for Jewish patients at the hospital. After experiencing the spark that a small hesedcan do, the students are eager to get going on their next
hesedmission!